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How to Read a Product’s Certificate of Analysis

COA for blog

In 2019, 22 CBD companies received warning letters from the FDA. Why?

Some companies made the mistake of marketing their products for children (yikes!) while most companies got in trouble for making claims on their CBD labels that weren’t, well, true.

As a consumer, you want to know that the products you’re paying for are what they claim to be. Yet, how can you be sure?

A CBD product’s certificate of analysis (COA) can help.

COAs detail the contents inside a brand’s CBD bottle. While a CBD company can test its products in its company lab, we always recommend buying products only from companies that offer third-party lab testing results.

Why? You’re about to find out the answer to that question and many more in this guide to everything you’ve ever wondered about CBD certificates of analysis. So, keep reading.

What Is a Certificate of Analysis?

A certificate of analysis is a document from an accredited lab that certifies a product’s contents.

In the CBD industry, that means testing the levels of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds inside the bottle. In most US states, CBD companies should also verify that the THC content is under 0.3%.

While all COAs are good, some are better than others. Next, we’re exploring why you should always choose brands that offer third-party lab results over in-house ones

Why Third-Party COAs Are Better

The difference between in-house and third-party lab testing results hinges upon one thing: conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest occurs when one party’s ability to be objective is compromised. For example, a CBD company that tests its products in-house may produce dishonest results to further their revenues. While this might sound crazy, it isn’t — this kind of problem happens all the time.

To save yourself the anxiety of wondering whether you can trust the results you’re analyzing, always go with the brand that posts third-party results.

Though conflict of interest can never be fully controlled for, a third-party lab is less likely to lie about a product because they don’t have as much to gain for it.

How to Read a CBD Certificate of Analysis

When you look at a COA, it’s usually organized like this:

  • Cannabinoids: A COA should verify the product’s THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and other cannabinoid content. If the product’s label doesn’t match up with the lab results, steer clear of that company like the plague.
  • Terpenes: Some companies offer full- or broad-spectrum products that contain terpenes and other plant materials in addition to cannabinoids. Terpenes provide scent and/or flavor to these products.
  • Other information: Some COAs may list more than cannabinoids and terpenes alone. These results may include measurements of toxins, such as microbial contaminants (i.e., mold, yeast, or salmonella), solvents, heavy metals, and pesticides.

Across from the parameter listed (i.e., cannabinoid, terpene, or other information), you’ll find the testing results. This is where you can see how many milligrams of each parameter is actually in the product.

The best COAs will present the lab’s findings in milligrams of CBD in the whole bottle (or capsule if you’re buying soft gels). These results allow for the simplest and most straightforward analysis. However, getting results in mg/g or mg/mL is also common.

Here’s how to read the results if they’re in mg/g or mg/mL.

When the Results Are in Milligrams per Gram

The gram is a unit of weight. When a CBD product comes in powder or solid form (i.e., edibles and isolates), you may see the COA results listed in mg/g.

To make it easier to analyze the results, we recommend converting the mg/g quantity into mg per total product.

How do you do this?

Take the total weight of the product, which should be listed on the label in grams. Then, multiply that number by the mg/g value listed in the results. This calculation will give you the total number of milligrams in your entire CBD product.

When the Results Are in Milligrams per Milliliter

In contrast to grams, a milliliter is a unit of volume. That’s why you’ll often find liquid CBD products (for example, tinctures) with results in mg/mL.

To make it easier to analyze the results, we recommend converting the mg/mL to mg per bottle.

Use the same process as before, except, this time, the product’s total weight should be in mL. Multiply the total weight of the product times the mg/mL value in the certificate of analysis. This will give you the total milligrams per bottle.

One last thing: keep in mind that you should use this process for one cannabinoid or one terpene at a time. For example, start with CBD before moving on to other compounds contained in your product.

Beyond the COA: Full-Panel CBD Lab Tests

Knowing how much CBD is in your products is important. Knowing how much THC is even more vital, especially if your job drug tests.

Yet, there’s one type of lab test that’s more important than both of these. It’s also the type of lab test companies order the least frequently.

What are we talking about? A full-panel lab test.

In this type of lab test, you see more than the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of your products. Full-panel tests can show the safety of a product. For example, they might check for the presence of mold, heavy metals, pesticides, and any other toxins that may be unsafe for human consumption.

You won’t have any trouble reading these results. Most labs list safety and toxicology information with a “Pass” or “Fail” rating.

Organic Family-Farmed CBD You Can Trust

A certificate of analysis can help protect you against low-quality or unsafe products. But as long as you choose a company you can trust, you won’t have to stress about the label and the COA not matching up.

Are you looking for a CBD brand that cares as much about its customers as it does about its products? Search no further than Ricky Ridge Hemp Co. Browse our CBD products today and try the Rocky Ridge difference for yourself!

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